Irwin E. Alber

AEROSPACE ENGINEERING ON THE BACK OF AN ENVELOPE Engineers need to acquire "back-of-the-envelope" survival skills to obtain rough quantitative answers to real-world problems, particularly when working on projects of enormous complexity and with very limited resources.

Aerospace Engineering on the Back of an Envelope offers engineers a series of step-by-step case study examples in the use of "back-of-the-envelope" estimation methods. The book shows how a rapid first-cut at an engineering problem can be carried out using the "quick-fire" approach based on simple physical engineering models developed from basic rules of thumb. The book then demontrates how, with additional analysis time, significant estimation improvements can be made through the use of more physics-based mathematical engineering models with inputs based on real-world design parameters. The book employs "paper and pencil" calculations based on these different methods to obtain quantitative estimates for a number of important geometric, performance, and design dimensions associated with two of the most complex real-world engineering projects: the Space Shuttle and the Hubble Space Telescope.

While this book looks to the past to resurrect and demonstrate various "back-of-the-envelope" estimation techniques, it also shows through the construction of a number of case-study models and actual calculations that these skills can serve to prepare engineers of today and tomorrow for a rapidly changing technical future.

Table of Contents

List of figures
List of tables

1. Introduction
2. Design of a high school science-fair electro-mechanical robot
3. Estimating Shuttle launch, orbit, and payload magnitudes
4. Columbia Shuttle accident analysis with Back-of-the-Envelope methods
5. Estimating the Orbiter reentry trajectory and the associated peak heating rates
6. Estimating the dimensions and performance of the Hubble Space Telescope


Extent: 356 pages, black and white/colour images integrated with text
Binding: Hardback
Published: 2012
ISBN: 978-3-642-22536-9

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